By Heino Molls

Over the years, I have seen the impression of real estate organizations grow from lightweight to formidable. The lobbying efforts of CREA and the provincial real estate associations have had a meaningful effect on the government and made credible image enhancements to the general public. It’s been a long road and the journey is nowhere near complete, but give credit where credit is due. There has been some progress and I commend these organizations for slugging it out so far.

Local real estate boards have also had some success in enhancing their image. After years of “civic nights”, appreciation dinners and formal acknowledgements for elected representatives, a lot of politicians now actively seek support from real estate associations.

So I am thinking it might be time for local real estate boards and associations to go to the next level of involvement in municipal planning. Notwithstanding the good work that has already been done, such as the initiatives taken by the Toronto Real Estate Board in sponsoring a commercial and residential event for planning. I mean get a permanent seat at the table at municipal planning meetings from building to transportation to community services.

Who better knows how neighbourhoods work? Who better to tell you what community services are used more than others? Who better to put forward the kind of housing that should be built? Come on, who knows a community better than a Realtor?

A Realtor can tell you right off the cuff that an area in the northern part of Port Coquitlam would do well with this kind of residential planning because the folks who are drawn to this area are such and such economically and socially. You can look at all the demographics you want but a Realtor will tell you more about an area and its future than most planning experts with charts and drawings.

A Realtor can tell you about aging populations and the need for hoofers (homes on one floor) as well as walk ups or condos that need to be balanced for families as well as young singles downtown. They can tell you where transit hubs should be built to embrace future growth. A Realtor can see the need for schools as neighbourhoods and communities turn over and are revived by young families.

A Realtor in Sackville who has worked the same block and the same neighbourhood for many years can tell you first hand the problems associated with building roads that are too small to accommodate the growing number of people and cars that will be moving into the community. A Realtor in Kirkland Lake can tell you that without certain municipal services, the population of the town will continue to decline and here is why this town should remain a hub for services to the surrounding regions. Today there are public planning meetings everywhere. A Realtor should be formally designated to attend each of those meetings at the head table and the podium.

I recall the day that CREA moved from its offices on Duncan Mill Road in Toronto to Ottawa. Their spokespeople said if they were going to improve the image of Realtors, they should be right in the capital to deal with politicians directly. They were right. I am not saying they have finished the job or even that they have it near completion, but they have done a great deal to make politicians consider the laws of the land that relate to the transaction of property in Canada. CREA has done a great deal to improve the image of Realtors in Canada.

Now the job of raising the image of Realtors falls to you. In every community, in every neighbourhood and on every street of the country, this is a torch you should carry forward. Do good work, act with benevolence and above all be a professional in every aspect. Your federal, provincial and municipal real estate association has done a lot of the heavy lifting already. All you have to do is share the weight.

Heino Molls has been the Publisher of REM, Real Estate Magazine (formerly Real Estate Marketing), since 1989. Previous to REM, he worked as an executive at the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), and at the Toronto Star. Contact Heino by email or call 416-425-3504 x2.


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